/ Automotive

Haunted by the Ghosts of Our Fathers Past

The automotive car buying process is constantly changing, but are we haunted by the ghosts of fathers past? We constantly hear from our customers who don't want to play games or wonder why the process is so hard. With all the information available it should be easier. Do your customers still want to play the game?

Are we judged based on how clients were treated by our managers or even the old school sales personnel on the sales floor? Yes, we absolutely are being judged! It may not be fair and you may deserve better. You’re only trying to provide for yourself, your family or your future. You only make money if you hold gross, right? Here’s where it gets a little dicey.

Take a look around things are changing. Stores like K-Mart, Sears, Toys R Us, Macy’s and the list goes on are finding themselves fighting- and mostly losing- the battle to stay alive. Why? Many of you will say convenience, ease of getting product, hassle-free return policies, and on and on. But maybe that isn't the whole reason. I personally like to see and experience what I am buying before I dish out my hard earned cash. There are some exceptions but for the most part I find this true. If you need shoes it is easier to look at the quality to see if it’s worth the money you're going to spend. Much of this depends on the type of person you are. Is the quality and the longevity of the product valuable to you? Or are you the type that wants to spend $45 and get a few months out of them? If you're patient maybe this works more than it fails, but the truth is that we don’t want to waste our time... we’re busy working bell to bell. When we get time off we don’t want to spend it in the store or stores. Or we feel like we have rudely interrupted a store clerk who rolls their eyes when we request help.

It is about VALUE! Know what value you bring to the customer. Is it the same value as that of the clothing store sales person who it seemed was bothered, as if you just took them away from their Cafe Macchiato or a super juicy gossip session? Are you bothered by them asking for help? You may even be upset that they don’t trust you the instant they meet you. This is why we have seen the sprout up of Carvana, Carmax, Ford Direct, Click Shop and Buy, TRUE CAR and other methods that take the sales person out of the equation of buying a car.

Many years ago I met Michael on the lot. I was seasoned and considered myself a professional sales person. I walked up with confidence and a smile and started to introduce myself. Before I finished welcoming him I was met with an “I’m all set”. Of all the brush offs the "I’m all set" always rubbed me the wrong way. I stayed with it and said “Well my name is Dan Matranga and the easiest part of my job is to show you the features and benefits so that you can make an educated decision. I would never expect you to buy anything that doesn’t fit in your budget or that you're not 100% satisfied with. Then I stared at him.

A minute which seemed like an eternity went by and he said “Does it have Navigation?” This was a 2007 Chevy Avalanche LTZ. I replied “Well that depends on the definition of navigation". I finished with telling Michael that it had “Onstar Turn by Turn navigation, which I proceeded to explain to him. He responded with “So I have to talk to someone?” and I said "Yes". Michael said “Well frankly I don’t want to talk to you!” Hmmm, I thought and then responded "That’s too bad because I can press a button, tell it where I want to go, and then it downloads the directions. With standard navigation you have to pull over, know the exact address and then type it in-- which can be an inconvenience. He looked at me for a second then hits me with “My friend says I should be able to offer you $500 over invoice and that should be acceptable." I asked “You still want the rebates right?” He laughed and we went on a test drive. And he took delivery.

When the transaction was complete he said to me. “Why did the salesman down the street tell me that's not how it works after I spent an hour with him?” You see, he wasn’t mad at me. I was was paying for the ghosts of our fathers past. Today with all the information out there we think we can do business like we did in 80’s, 90’s or even the early 2000’s. We take the statement that the basics sell cars. But what are the basics? You need a product and a customer. The customer has to like you and the product. Then a transaction follows that makes sense to both parties where the VALUE outweighs the expectations.

Yes, we pay for the Ghosts of our Fathers in the car business. We need to bring a positive value to our customers. Remember that it's about choice... and why should they choose you?